Possession coho project begins raising 40,500 smolt

Swim fishies, swim!

That's exactly what the fishies -- 40,500 coho salmon smolt -- did when the were delivered to Possession Point Bait Co. Jan. 21.

As they have done for a decade, Puget Sound Anglers and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife filled a special pond at Possession Point Bait Co. with tens of thousands of baby salmon late last month. These are salmon that the state and club members hope will grow to be adult fish that will spawn and, in many cases, be caught by Whidbey Island fishermen.

According to Duffy Schoeler of the Whidbey Island Puget Sound Anglers, who watched the fish get piped into the pond, the fish were very active.

"They swam like little crazy maniacs," Schoeler said.

The fish will grow in the aerated pond until May, when they will be released into Puget Sound. Not more than an inch or 2 long when they got to the pond aboard a special tank truck, the fish will exceed 6 inches in length when released in the spring.

Over the next few months, the Anglers group and bait company owners Dan and Angie Cooper will feed and care for the fish.

Most of the bait company's fish-raising costs are reimbursed by the Stilly-Snohomish Task Force, a public agency that funds fish recovery projects.

Angler Russ Ramsey said this batch of fish is expected to return to Whidbey Island waters in August 2004.

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